Levchin prize for Marc Stevens’ groundbreaking work on hash functions

For their groundbreaking work on the security of collision resistant hash functions researchers Marc Stevens (CWI) and Xiaoyun Wang (Tsinghua University) were awarded one of the two 2020 Levchin Prizes for real-world cryptography.

Publication date: 16-01-2020

For their 'groundbreaking work on the security of collision resistant hash functions' researchers Marc Stevens (CWI) and Xiaoyun Wang (Tsinghua University, China) were awarded one of the two 2020 Levchin Prizes for real-world cryptography. The other prize recipient is Ralph Merkle, known as one of the inventors of public key cryptography and cryptographic hashing. The winners received the award at the Real World Cryptography Conference in New York on 8 January. The prize, comprising a trophy and 10.000 dollar, is established by Max Levchin, CEO of fintech company Affirm and co-founder and former CTO of PayPal.

Marc Stevens commented on Twitter: "I'm very proud and thankful to have won one of the RWC2020 Levchin prize together with Xiaoyun Wang for our work on hash function cryptanalysis!" Stevens, a cryptanalyst in the Cryptology Group at CWI, has contributed to exposing weaknesses of cryptographic hash function standards MD5 and SHA-1. He is known for breaking the https security in 2008 (MD5), the analysis of the Flame supermalware in 2012 and breaking industry standard SHA-1 in practice in 2017, which was being used for digital signatures. In 2016 he won the Google Security Privacy and Anti-abuse applied award of 50.000 dollar in recognition of his work in cryptanalysis, and in 2017 he won the Pwnie Award for Best Cryptographic Attack, together with researchers from Google.

Established in 2015, the Levchin Prize for Real-World Cryptography recognizes up to two groups or individuals annually who have made significant contributions that have had a major impact on the practice of cryptography in real-world systems. The trophy is modelled after the Jefferson Disk wheel cypher and a Cryptex (coined from the fictional writings of author Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’). Recipients are recognized at the Real-World Cryptography conference, which brings together cryptography researchers and developers who are implementing cryptography on the Internet, the cloud and embedded devices from around the world. The conference is organized by the International Association of Cryptologic Research (IACR) to strengthen and advance the conversation between these two communities.

More information

Source of the 3rd paragraph: Levchin Prize website.
Source picture: RealWorldCrypto tweet on the second Levchin Prize.